45 Hours in Hong Kong

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Friday Night
I had been looking forward to meeting Ele in Hong Kong for the last month, ever since she gave me dates for her visit to Beijing and Xiamen. The planning, unusually, was perfect and I landed 5 minutes behind her, probably trailing her plane in on the final appraoch. It was, however, a touch late but we managed to make up for lost time with little difficulty.

The hotel was amazing. Reasonable price, great location in the Mid Levels, and a jaw-dropping view of Central and accross to Stanley Bay and Kowloon. The 23rd floor bay view premium was worth every penny. Michael joined us on the 14th floor, lining up for a great weekend of meeting friends and family in the South China Sea.

I felt pretty proud heading out there, with so many different groups of people that I knew. Plus, the fact that I had already visited Hong Kong twice meant that I had no need to do the tourist attractions. The eleation of landing there last year was replaced somewhat with the feeling of visiting a London, or perhaps Frankfurt. No surprises, but a pleasure to be here. What a different perspective a year provides!

The stunning view from our hotel of Central, Hong Kong

We met Lorenzo in his new apartment, ironically staying in Sun Yat Sens old hideout on Staunton Street, right in Soho but away from the bustle of Lan Kwai Fong. A nice little pad with balcony / boudoir. We sank a couple of glasses of wine and went off to meet Nick and Rich from the ‘Keep’ boutique store in Taipei, plus Anita and Pamela that I had the pleasure to meet a few weeks ago. Somehow, I seemed to have networked myself into the Hong Kong social scene remotely, since we hardly paid for a drink all night, and we got into three clubs for free. The homework paid off! The highlight was surely Dragon-i – packed with models and apparently celebrities and the jewel in the crown of the HK scenes to see and be seen.

Party people at Dragon-i

A rather blurry start to the day, but Ele and I went off to meet Anita + Michael and we pootled off to the equivalent of Wufenpu clothes market in Taipei, except for young clothing designers. Four floors of edge, attitude, and glamour. I picked up a pile of pieces plus shoes and felt pretty pleased with myself.

In the evening we went off to rather a splendid Shanghai restaurant in the ‘Money’ building called Nan Guo (more or less). Anita had selected the dishes remotely for us so navigating the menu was not too intimidating. The cool thing was allowing the waiters to prepare the food in front of you – stuffing parcels, cutting bits of meat, mixing things – adding to the feeling of a ritual. Similar to the experience I have had with Japanese food. All part of the theatre.

Of course, we had to go out after. Several bars turned into several clubs – the best of which was Lamaya (or something) which had a German deejay on hand dishing up tight house and techno to a dancing crowd of foreigners and locals. The scene is certainly different here. They seem far more ready to dance to music they have not heard before, unlike Taipei where pop / RnB floor fillers are the safe norm. Equally, fashion here is more developed and western. Less need to flash well-known brand names and more desire to have things that only people in the know will get.

Michael in Morocco, it seems

Waking up to the sound of apes howling is a little disarming.

Cracking open my eyes, I realised that of course our hotel was located 23 floors above the monkey sanctuary of the zoo. The one Ele and I saw last year! It certainly confused me for a good few seconds before the pain of the alcohol hit me as a mosquito would a motorbike helmet – if I am the mosquito. We trundled downstairs to eat breakfast and wait for Lorenzo and the beach!

One more view of our view – the bulk of my photos had the lens pointed between our curtains! If you close your eyes, you can hear monkeys…

Repulse Bay – surely the coolest name… there must be good songs written about it – is on the south coast of Hong Kong Island. Rather developed, I realised after an hour there that this was exactly the afternoon I needed – not only for Hong Kong, but for the previous months in Taiwan where I have not left the city except on two wheels. I realised that I have not really been out of Taipei since I was in Thailand – such was the pace of change of my social life.

I managed to drift off while lying on a floating deck moored 50m out, Lorenzo impressed his German architect girls by writing swear words in the sand, Ele looked pensively off into the distance, and we all watched the sun set while sipping Smirnoff Ice – surely what the stuff was designed for.

Ele stares into the middle distance, feet in the South China Sea

Lorenzo on fine form

Run for the beach!

Arriving back in Taipei was a wrench, especially to say goodbye to Lorenzo and Anita. I have a feeling I could be back at some point. You never know. I certainly like the place (could you tell?). After some Beijing food, Ele and I rolled to the airport and bid farewell – really, very tough for me. Not seeing her in 10 months and having her snatched away again was a bit rough. Such is the decision of living abroad. And as you can see, the lows come with very good highs. It’s rarely easy, but nearly alwaysrewarding, ultimately.

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